National News

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

New Mexico firefighters demand pay to meet the new state minimum wage requirement

VIDEO: A statewide minimum wage increase that went into effect this year never came for Raton firefighters after city officials said they were unaware that the new law overruled the contract they had with the firefighters union. Now state unions are calling for appropriate raises. “It's an honor for them to serve, but at the same time—just compensate them correctly, that's all we're asking,” said Robert Sanchez, president of the New Mexico Professional Fire Fighters Association. "So it looks like the city of Raton is refusing to pay their minimum wage status," Sanchez added. A contract that the city of Ration entered with the firefighters union last summer shows entry-level firefighters make $8.87 an hour, which is less than the state’s new minimum of $9 an hour.
KOB-TV NBC 4 Albuquerque

Volunteer firefighter contracts terminated in Texas county, no known plan in place to serve communities

The county’s Emergency Services Department Board unanimously motioned to end its contracts with volunteer fire departments that protect a large chunk of El Paso County Tuesday night, leaving many firefighters worried for their futures. Six El Paso area fire departments say they were given a 90-day notice that the county is looking at terminating their contracts and with no plan in place that they’re aware of, the firefighters worry what this means for the communities they serve. The emergency services district two includes the communities of San Elizario, Fabens, Clint, Montana Vista, Socorro, Anthony, and Vinton. The volunteer departments are hoping for an open and fair discussion with the emergency services board attorney, according to Lisa Soto, the attorney representing the volunteer fire departments.

Firefighter badly burned in 2015 Twisp River fire in Washington reaches $5 million settlement with 2 utilities

A wildland firefighter badly burned in the 2015 Twisp River blaze has reached a $5 million settlement with two utility companies that he had sued for allegedly failing to keep branches away from a power line that state officials concluded caused the ignition. The civil suit that resulted in the settlement was filed by Daniel Lyon Jr., the sole survivor of a four-person engine crew overcome by the Twisp River fire. The settlement came just before the state Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case, which sought to overturn a legal doctrine that largely prevents professional first-responders from seeking damages. Steve Bulzomi, an attorney representing Lyon, said it is highly unusual for a firefighter in Washington to be able to recover any damages because such cases are usually dismissed.
Seattle Times - Metered Site

Viral video challenge prompts warning from Massachusetts fire marshal

VIDEO: The state fire marshal on Tuesday put all Massachusetts fire chiefs on alert that his office has already received reports of two instances in which teens trying to recreate a viral video have caused electrical system damage or fire. Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said a video that’s gained attention on the TikTok app has encouraged teens to partially insert the plug part of a phone charger into a wall outlet and then slide a penny down the wall to make contact with the two exposed prongs. "The result is sparks, electrical system damage, and in some cases fire," the fire marshal said in a memo to fire officials around the state. He added, "This video is a concern and similar to past viral videos that encourage unsafe behavior. You might reach out to local news outlets, school officials, and parent organizations. Alert them to this challenge, advise them to, not only look for signs of fire play like scorched outlets, but to have conversations about fire and electrical safety with tweens and teenagers."
WFXT-TV FOX 25 Boston

Wisconsin fire department uses new tech to help keep people safe

VIDEO: The Plover Fire Department recently started using navigation compass devices in their masks. It not only helps crews combat structure fires but it also helps them save lives. "We've had two actual structure fires within the last week," said Plover Fire Dept. Captain Ethan Meddaugh. "One in the village of Plover and one in the village of Whiting." Time is everything when it comes to a fire. "Time is very valuable," says Meddaugh. "In a matter of seconds a fire can double in size." The compass devices make it easier for firefighters to find their way around when battling a blaze. "The mask can definitely help us in a structure fire to keep the hot air and smoke away from us and having to breathe in the fire," says Meddaugh. "But adding the new navigation device to our masks it has it readily available in our field of vision so we can see through the smoke."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

18 firefighters, 1 civilian injured in 5-alarm fire in New York

VIDEO: Hundreds of firefighters battled a raging and fast-moving fire that spread through a row of town-homes on Staten Island on Monday. The fire was reported shortly after 3 p.m. on Rensselaer Avenue, and within 30 minutes, a fifth alarm had been sounded as the flames quickly spread. Officials say 18 firefighters and one civilian suffered injuries in the fire, but all the injuries were believed to be minor. Heavy smoke could be seen pouring from the row of connected homes with firefighters trying to contain the fire from the ground and the roof. The FDNY said wood construction in the attics allowed the fire to spread quickly through the roof. Reise Carjullo was in the shower when he first noticed the smoke. But then he remembered his brother was still upstairs and sound asleep.
WABC-TV ABC 7 New York

California fire station closes for 6 weeks due to personnel shortage

La Verne Fire Station No. 3 at 5100 Esperanza Drive, which serves neighborhoods in the area, will be closed for about six weeks until the city can hire more firefighters, Mayor Don Kendrick said Monday, Jan. 20. La Verne Firefighters’ Association, Local 3624, posted information about the closure Friday on social media. The Facebook post, which received hundreds of comments and nearly 150 shares, did not mention that the station would reopen in a few weeks but suggested that it was permanently closed. That’s because there is no guarantee the station will reopen, said Andy Glaze, the union’s president and a captain at the La Verne Fire Department. Three new recruits are not going to fix the problem of sagging morale, lack of a safe work environment and a failure on the city’s part to retain firefighters, he said Monday.
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin - Metered Site

Nearly 1,000 Texas Firefighters Get Training to Recognize Suicide Risk

VIDEO: It’s a startling statistic - since 2015, more firefighters and police officers are dying by suicide than in the line of duty, according to a report. In January, nearly 1,000 Fort Worth firefighters will take a course to learn to spot the signs of someone at risk for suicide. According to a report published in 2017 by the Ruderman Family Foundation, almost 250 firefighters and police officers died by suicide in 2016 across the United States, as compared to just over 200 that died in the line of duty. Kristi Wiley is teaching Fort Worth Firefighters how to ask questions, and save lives, with QPR training. The acronym stands for "question, persuade, refer." “We need to ask the question, if we think someone is struggling, then we want to persuade them to stay alive,” said Kristi Wiley, program director for the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.
KXAS-TV NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

More consolidation may be the answer to a lack of volunteer firefighters in rural Iowa

Two decades ago, a machine shed fire in rural Plymouth County might have taken one, maybe two, fire departments to put out the flames. But in 2019, it took five just to get enough manpower and water to put out the fire. No single department had enough available volunteers or resources. "The days where the butcher, the baker, and the horseshoe maker ran down the street when the fire whistle blew in town, that doesn't happen anymore," Le Mars Fire Chief David Schipper said. Instead, fire departments unable to fill part-time slots from within their own areas are partnering with neighboring communities. The approach, similar to that used in rural school districts, widens the pool of available volunteers who can respond to emergency calls. Indeed, consolidation may be the future of firefighting in Iowa. Many departments are sharing spaces, equipment and even fire chiefs. Some have simply combined departments as a whole.
Des Moines Register

U.S. House bill aims to help veteran firefighters

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. House that aims to help veteran firefighters. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Congressman Don Bacon (R-Nebraska-02), a U.S. Air Force veteran, introduced the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act on Thursday. It aims to provide veteran firefighters with the compensation, health care, and retirement benefits they earned with their military service. The bill is named for Michael Lecik, a Powhatan County resident who was deployed twice as a U.S. Air Force firefighter. According to a release, Lecik was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Feb. 2019, but the Veterans Health Administration does not cover the treatment costs for such disease because the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs does not often recognize the service connection between firefighting and cancer as a "presumptive service-connected disability" more than a year after active duty. Lecik's service ended in 2008.
WVIR-TV NBC/CW+ 29 Charlottesville

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe